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Albert Pujols Contract Countdown: Pitchers Begin Reporting

It's time to see just what Albert Pujols meant by his most recent Spring Training deadline for contract talks with the St. Louis Cardinals: Pitchers have begun reporting, namely Jaime Garcia and Kyle McClellan, who are already throwing with Dave Duncan at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. Joe Strauss's multiple unnamed sources (as ever) suggest the Cardinals and Pujols are nowhere close—which means, translating from the hysterical, that they're still discussing a framework, instead of settling on one—and more interestingly offer February 15 as the official date of no return. 

Pujols's contract was discussed only briefly last year, with a similar Spring Training end-point, and since then the free agent market has continued to lurch upward in fits and Jayson Werth-influenced starts. Unplaced scuttlebutt has suggested the Pujols camp is talking in terms of a 10 year, $300 million deal, but nobody's actually placed that in anybody's mouth but Jayson Stark. 

Pujols is six years older than Alex Rodriguez was when he signed his 10-year, $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers, which remains the generational-player baseline of first resort. He has never been spotted canoodling with Cameron Diaz, which can only help his bargaining position.